France, Czech Republic and others push for nuclear in EU's green investment rules

Steam rises from a cooling tower of the Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear power station in Civaux, France, October 8, 2021. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

PRAGUE, Oct 11 (Reuters) - France, Finland, the Czech Republic and other central and eastern European countries have jointly pushed for including nuclear energy in the European Union's upcoming sustainable finance rules, the Czech Industry Ministry said on Monday.

The European Commission is expected to make a decision in the coming months on whether the climate taxonomy will label nuclear energy and natural gas as green investments. read more

The first-of-its-kind regulation aims to steer private capital out of polluting economic activities and into those the EU deems environmentally friendly.

The countries have long pushed for nuclear to be included as a means of achieving the bloc's climate goals, although the recent spike in energy costs, especially for gas, have added weight to the debate with the region heavily reliant on Russian imports.

"To win the climate battle, we need nuclear power," said a statement from the countries, which was also signed by representatives of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Slovenia.

"It is, for us all, a crucial and reliable asset for a low-carbon future.

The countries, led by France, said rising energy prices showed the importance of cutting dependence on third countries as soon as possible.

They nuclear was an affordable and independent energy source which should be included in the taxonomy by the end of the year.

"All scientific assessments requested by the European Commission on the environmental impacts of nuclear energy come to the same conclusion: there is no science-based evidence that nuclear power is less climate-friendly than any of the energy sources included in the taxonomy," the statement said.

EU countries are divided over nuclear, which produces roughly a quarter of EU electricity from the 13 states that use it. Supporters promote its low CO2 emissions, while opponents, such as Germany, raise concerns over hazardous waste, and the delays and spiralling costs of recent projects. read more

France generates around 70% of its electricity from nuclear, while it accounted for around 37% of the Czech Republic's electricity generation in 2020.

Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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